Employment in Belarus continues to reduce

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May 02, 2017 13:57
Фото: Дмитрий Брушко, TUT.BY

In Q1 2017, Belarusian enterprises laid off 10 600 people more than recruited. If compared with 2016, the situation on the labour market has improved due to a change in the energy prices on the world market and an increase in demand for Belarusian produces. The state is likely to continue to deny problems on the labour market, while companies are likely to continue to lay off workers.

According to Belstat, in Q1 2017, large and medium-sized enterprises in Belarus hired 127 100 people and laid off 137 700 people. Net layoffs totalled 10600 people, including, 5000 people in March. Most layoffs were reported in industry, construction and retail trade (a total of 9900 people). In late March, there were 43 400 unemployed in Belarus or 8100 unemployed more than in December 2016.

In Q1 2016, the number of laid-off totalled 30600 people, unemployed exceeded 53500 people, and GDP fell by 3.6%, which prevented any improvements on the labour market. In 2017, the situation is more favourable due to higher oil prices and boosted demand for Belarusian products on the Russian market. Some signs of economic recovery have prompted the country's leadership to declare that the crisis has been overcome and that in 2017 wages would reach BYN 1,000 amid full employment.

That said, amid a slight improvement in GDP dynamics in Q1 2017, the mutually contradicting tasks of USD 500 monthly wages and full employment are unlikely to be fulfilled. Even with the current employment in the economy, in order to achieve a BYN 1000 monthly wage, enterprises would have to find additional several billion US Dollars to ensure pay rises. The state regards some 350 000 people as social dependents. Their employment with a BYN 1,000 monthly wage would require additional BYN 350 million per month. Such funds are unavailable at state enterprises. Moreover, the excess labour in the economy is some 8-10%. Expected bankruptcies of unprofitable agricultural enterprises would put additional pressure on the labour market. In the given circumstances, the state is likely to offer low-paid jobs in order to demonstrate demand for additional workers, but layoffs would persist. Net employment is likely to be reported only by some industries, such as IT, medicine, and education, while net layoffs in the economy as a whole could make some 5000 to 10000 people per quarter.

Overall, despite some improvements in the economy, layoffs persist in Belarus. As it would be impossible to fulfil both tasks, eg wage growth and full employment, the state is likely to demonstrate availability of low-paid jobs amid further layoffs in the economy.

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Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries entangle in confrontation spiral
October 02, 2017 11:57
Фото: RFRM

Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.

The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.

Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.

For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.

Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.

The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.

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